U.S. Visa Fees May Violate Trade Agreement - InformationWeek
IoT
IoT
Healthcare // Analytics
News
1/6/2011
01:53 PM
50%
50%
RELATED EVENTS
[Ransomware] Taking the Mystery out of Ransomware
Dec 07, 2016
Lost data. Systems locked down. Whole companies coming to a grinding halt. When it comes to ransom ...Read More>>

U.S. Visa Fees May Violate Trade Agreement

Increases for the H-1B and L-1 permits for foreigners working in the U.S. may not meet requirements of the General Agreement on Trade in Services, finds legal analysis.

Top 10 Government Stories Of 2010
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: Top 10 Government Stories Of 2010
Legislation attaching new fees to U.S. visas for foreign workers may be in violation of an international trade agreement, according to a new study.

Passed in August 2010, Public Law 111-230 increases the filing fee and fraud prevention and detection fee by $2,000 for H-1B visas and by $2,250 for L-1 visas. The law only applies to companies that employ 50 or more workers in the United States where more than 50% of those workers are in H-1B or L-1 status.

These fee increases likely violate U.S. commitments under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) in several ways, according to a legal analysis written by analyst Stephen Claeys for the National Foundation for American Policy.

GATS is a multilateral agreement governing trade in services among World Trade Organization (WTO) members, including the United States; it went into effect in January 1995.

When the law raising fees visas was passed, one of its proponents, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, said its intention was to make visas less available to foreign workers so companies would have to hire U.S. citizens, Claeys said, speaking on a conference call about his research Thursday.

This intent to "make these visas less available and more difficult to procure" violates GATS because it willfully restricts the entry of foreign workers, he said.

"The U.S. made a [commitment} that all of its measures would be made in impartial manner," he said. "Increasing them to make them less available would not meet that standard."

The law also appears to violate GATS because it could nullify or impair benefits of other WTO members, whereas the agreement stipulates that any country signing the agreement must not take this type of action, he said.

Claeys said that the law's fee increase for companies with more than 50% of employees having a visa status could affect companies only in a certain sector, which might impact a WTO member with much of its industry in that sector.

He added that these potential violations don't mean that the U.S. is not allowed to change its immigration or foreign-worker visa policies. It merely raises awareness of potential discrepancies between a law that's been passed and the trade agreement in which the country participates.

"The U.S. made these obligations under the GATS and these visa fee increases are potentially violating these obligations," he said.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Top IT Trends to Watch in Financial Services
IT pros at banks, investment houses, insurance companies, and other financial services organizations are focused on a range of issues, from peer-to-peer lending to cybersecurity to performance, agility, and compliance. It all matters.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of November 6, 2016. We'll be talking with the InformationWeek.com editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll